Three workers from El Comercio newspaper were kidnapped on Monday in the parish of Mataje, province of Esmeraldas. Interior Minister César Navas reported that the detainees were allegedly transferred to Colombia, but they are “fine.”
The situation on the northern border does not improve. Yesterday, the National Government confirmed the kidnapping of three workers of the newspaper El Comercio in the Mataje parish, in the canton of San Lorenzo, in Esmeraldas, on the border with Colombia. For security, the authorities did not detail the circumstances of the abduction of the communication workers, nor who would be behind this. Interior Minister César Navas was cautious with his words. Its objective was to safeguard the safety of the journalist, the photographer and the driver of the capital. But he said that the journalistic team went through the military checkpoint where he received the risk warnings for circulating in the area affected by the presence of irregular Colombian groups.
The team did not follow the suggestion and entered Mataje, which is now under a strict curfew. The Minister of the Interior clarified that the confirmation of the kidnapping came from contact with the kidnappers. Through this channel, which was not detailed, the Government, through a technical team of the Police, negotiates the release of the three citizens.
The demands of the kidnappers are unknown, but Navas affirmed that the victims would already be in Colombia, for which reason contacts have been established with the authorities of that country. Navas, together with the state attorney general, Carlos Baca Mancheno, and the head of National Defense, Patricio Zambrano, held a meeting Monday night with the relatives of the disappeared and with the representatives of El Comercio.
They were given more details of the event. They also received information on the protocols to be followed by the State to deal with such cases. “No more details can be given because there is a process of research,” said Navas yesterday at the Blue Room. The official gave these statements escorted by the military and police leadership, as well as by the Minister of Defense, Patricio Zambrano.
The communication team covered the consequences of the last attacks of Colombian armed groups since last Sunday. They were staying in the outskirts of San Lorenzo. This fact is added to what happened the same afternoon of Monday (4:00 pm), when two explosive charges were detonated, which affected a military water tanker that circulated between Mataje and San Lorenzo. Previously (1:00 PM), the Jungle Battalion BS-55 Putumayo of the Army located and identified an illegal camp, presumably of dissidents of the 48th Front of the Revolutionary Armed Forces of Colombia (FARC). The discovery was made at the Manzayá site, on the banks of the San Miguel River, Putumayo Canton, in Sucumbíos. In light of these events, the President of the Republic, Lenin Moreno, called today for the Security Council, composed of various State functions.
Vigil in solidarity of kidnapped Journalists
Politicians and citizens in general gathered yesterday night, from 7:00 p.m., in a vigil in the Plaza Grande, in the center of Quito. The purpose of this meeting was to demand the release of the three workers of the newspaper El Comercio under the slogan “We are missing three.” With chants and banners, they urged the government authorities to take the necessary steps so that the detainees return safe and sound. Even on social networks, Internet users used the #NosFaltan3 and #LosQueremosDeVuelta tags on Twitter to show solidarity with their families and to demand acceleration in police investigations.
Government will not give truce at the border
Navas clarified in the press conference the origin of the violent events on the northern border. He clarified that these are the consequences of the actions undertaken by the Government against drug trafficking and the dissidents armed groups of the FARC, which operate from Colombian territory. “What we have to understand is where the threat operates, which does not operate in our territory. In our country there are no drug crops, laboratories. We are facing an asymmetric threat with an enemy that does not operate in our territory, “said Navas, although he acknowledged the violent acts perpetrated by these dissident groups, who” have felt the power of the Ecuadorian State. We have weakened their criminal structures. We are closing doors to not allow the entry of drugs into our country. This drug that affects the health of our children and youth “. The Security Council meets today Due to this event, the President of the Republic called a meeting of the Public Security Council of the State, which is the highest body in the country on this issue. It also ordered that the Armed Forces and the National Police prohibit the movement of citizens who do not live in areas near the international political boundary, in the San Lorenzo canton. Even journalists and users of social networks were asked to be responsible for using information responsibly.
The objective, according to the authorities, is to guarantee the efficiency and effectiveness of operations at the border. It was also determined that the Ministry of the Interior is the official source of information about the events in the north of Esmeraldas. Navas exhorted the social communicators who carry out their work in that area to comply with the coverage protocol that was issued by the Ministry of the Interior, following the state of emergency due to the armed attack at the end of January.
The state of exception applies to the San Lorenzo and Eloy Alfaro cantons, both in the province of Esmeraldas. Navas added that this regulation was created to protect the integrity of journalists and guarantee the conditions of the trade. He recalled that the attacks or kidnappings will affect the Government’s decision to confront these criminal organizations. Finally, the Minister of State pronounced, in the name of the President, a message to the citizenship so that it can trust in the actions undertaken by the State. “On behalf of the Government we call for national unity to better cope with this situation and for Ecuador to remain a country of peace,” said the Secretary of State
The largest number of attacks occurs in the Mataje sector, border area with Colombia. In this place there are four attacks.
27 / January 2018
In San Lorenzo (Esmeraldas) a car bomb exploded in the early morning hours and left 28 injured and damaged in 37 buildings. The state of emergency was decreed. March 16, 2018 In Bourbon, near the army checkpoint, an explosive device detonated. There was minor damage to the infrastructure.
16 / March 2018
The Armed Forces and the National Police revealed the execution of 20 raids and the arrest of five people involved in the attack in San Lorenzo.
18 / March 2018
Two soldiers were injured while performing surveillance tasks in the El Pan sector. The Ministry of Defense reported that there were shots from the Colombian side.
20 / March 2018
Three soldiers died and another seven were injured by an explosion in the middle of a surveillance routine in Mataje.
26 / March 2018
Édison Narváez, commander of the Army, confirmed that a water tank of the Armed Forces. He suffered an aggression in Mataje during his supply journey.
27 / March 2018
The Minister of the Interior, César Navas, confirms in a press conference the kidnapping of newspaper team from El Comercio newspaper that worked in the Mataje area.
Security measures are redoubled in Mataje
Security was redoubled in Mataje after the attack on a tanker and the kidnapping of the newspaper team of El Comercio newspaper. Military intelligence explained that Mataje, on the border with Colombia, has been one of the critical points of the northern border due to the presence of groups dedicated to drug trafficking. In the absence of the Colombian army in the area, the buildings of these bands are ostentatious, with huge farms, entertainment centers and other buildings.
The structures are protected by comuneros, who warn of military operations or the presence of strangers in the area. For this reason, they use strategies such as turning the chainsaws on or increasing the volume of the music so that all the safety rings know the passage of the patrols. Monday night and early morning yesterday the first day of the restriction of circulation to the 12 parishes of San Lorenzo was fulfilled.
So far there are no news or arrests for violating this provision that is backed by the state of exception that prevails in the canton of Esmeralda since last January, when a car bomb exploded in his police station. However, community leaders complain about the lack of definitive solutions to the problems in the area.
‘Guacho’ left without power Tumaco
Colombia confirmed that the head of the dissidence of the FARC in the southwest of the country, Wálter Patricio Artízala Vernaza, alias ‘Guacho’, is responsible for the attack on an energy tower left on Monday without light to the municipality of Tumaco, in the department of Nariño. The commander of the Hercules Task Force, General Jorge Isaac Hoyos, assured Blu Radio that the incident is the responsibility of the residual armed group ‘Óliver Sinisterra’, under the command of alias ‘Guacho’.
According to the official report, the dissidents of the FARC “destroyed the leg of a tower on Monday morning and in the night they collapsed a complete electrical tower, which is the one that conducts the electric power to Tumaco.” When knowing the fact, the governor of Nariño, Camilo Romero, indicated in his Twitter account: “Enough is enough! No more aggressions against the people of Tumaco. I am reported to be blasting an electric power tower that leaves our Pacific capital without power. ” The military investigation has allowed to determine that the intention of alias ‘Guacho’ and the men under his command is to divert the attention of the authorities and thus be able to move in the border area with Ecuador to continue with the drug trafficking. (I)